Inglewood’s unlikely road to a potential championship

On Friday night, Inglewood, Calif., will play for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 Championship.

Given the circumstances, it’s almost a miracle.

Obstacles for the fourth year coach Mil’Von Jamesits staff and team are unfathomable to most high school football teams, players, and fans.

Let’s start with the field or lack thereof.

Oh, there’s a field in Inglewood but it’s full of dead grass and roots. The weight room, if you want to call it that, is an old auto shop.

Since taking over the program, James and his trainers have spent thousands of dollars first on Craigslist and then wherever they could find weights to DIY some semblance of a workout room.

There are two platforms in this space that the Los Angeles Chargers have given away, but they have deteriorated badly. Trainers bought a 40-pound dumbbell here, a 10-pound dumbbell there, bench press plates when they could find something. The benches are taped together.

Birds sometimes fly. There was broken glass when James and his staff took over and cleaned it up as best they could. Sometimes a rat can be seen. There is no running water. No heat in the winter, no air conditioning in the brutal Southern California summers.

When James took over, there was no office or locker room for the coaches. The coaches watched the film of the match on a projector mounted on the wall.

“It’s proof of always being hungry, whatever the conditions,” said the sporting director of Inglewood. Michael Grimble said. “Sometimes I don’t want to say we can do better than that because you can always have a better facility, a better weight room, you always want to have the best. When you’re put in position, the players, the staff of coaching, to overcome, because that’s what makes the history of these kids and this coaching staff and the whole system at Inglewood High, because we don’t train in the best of conditions, we don’t have the best weight room, but we overcome all the obstacles we can’t control.

“It’s about making things happen. You still have to find success.”

With all these obstacles, giving up is understandable.

But it’s an Inglewood team that’s undefeated heading into the championship game against Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon, the high school for a time of Kylie and kendall Jenniferof LeBron James, Jr.and the children of Hollywood celebrities.

The dichotomy between the two schools could not be clearer.

Sierra Canyon has a beautiful soccer field. As described for this story, the Inglewood field has potholes and has been described as dust and dirt.

The Inglewood football program does not have lineman sleds. They just received two bags this year to use in practice. There is no running water in practice, so coaches buy bottled water so players have something to drink.

There is Caroline Coleman Stadium in Inglewood to use but it is shared with Inglewood (California) Morningside and it doubles as a park so if the practice is there some people might practice or have a birthday party could take place a few steps away.

Last season, Inglewood faced Mission Hills (California) Alemany in a game and the coaches had to park their cars with the lights on near the field during practice that week because the stadium lights weren’t working.

Before the matches, it is James who bandages the ankles and the wrists of his players. There is no equipment manager, so an assistant coach takes care of these responsibilities.

James declined to do an interview for this story, but Grimble was full of praise for his school’s coach.

“It’s about coaching and these youngsters believe in their coach,” Grimble said. “You can play for a coach and not buy or be sold. These kids, they believe. They believe in coaching, they believe in Mil’Von and for me to see it’s refreshing and it’s an excellent leader for them.

“At the end of the day, they are motivated by him. Me as a DA, I see how the games are going and I talk to him like every day on the phone. Just to see that… the way the children react and leadership, even with his staff, everyone is behind him.”

Even with all these challenges, there is still plenty of top talent in the Inglewood squad.

jamari johnson is committed to Louisville but Oregon try to return it. There are other committed players from Nevada, Colorado State and Campbell in the 2023 class.

Terrell Bradshaw in the 2024 class is a three-star receiver that offers almost double-digit deals. In 2025, quarterback Husan Longstreet has nine offers and is setting up an incredible second season with 3,377 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and five picks.

To get here, Inglewood beat the 2024 five-star quarterback Julien Sayin and his Carlsbad team, Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger, which has many Power Five prospects, Apple Valley with Alabama offensive line engagement Raymond PulidoRancho Cucamonga and survived last weekend in a 41-38 thriller against West Hills Chaminade, who pledged to Oregon State and San Diego State.

The Southern Section Championship boils down to Inglewood and Sierra Canyon which includes Stanford DL validation Cameron BrandtBYU WR Commitment Josiah PhillipsColorado State WR commitment Lavender Brownan impressive 2024 class and a hot quarterback in 2025.

Inglewood looks ready for the next challenge.

“We are Bane,” said a person close to the program who asked not to be identified. “As cool as it is to be Batman and to be the King of Gotham, Batman has it all. He just decides to be a superhero. Batman doesn’t have to save Gotham. He’s rich, he could s sit down, but he decides to do so.

“We? We are Bane. We have to sit here and fight for things. We have to sit here in everyone’s shadow. If you ask our kids for our quote every day, straight up, ‘You are adapted to the dark. We were born there. They will tell you.

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